Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market
Posted: 19 Jan 1999
Do employers and workers underbid prevailing wages if there is unemployment? Do employers take advantage of workers' underbidding by lowering wages? We hypothesize that under conditions of incomplete labor contracts, wage levels may positively affect workers' propensity to cooperate. This, in turn, may prevent firms from underbidding or accepting the underbidding of workers. Experimental double auctions conducted for the purpose of examining these hypotheses yield the following results: (i) Workers' underbidding is very frequent, but employers refuse to accept workers' low wage offers in markets with incomplete labor contracts. However, in the presence of complete labor contracts, employers accept and actively enforce wages close to the competitive level. (ii) Workers' effort is positively related to the wage level. Therefore, wage cutting is costly for the employer if workers have discretion over their effort level. This holds true even in the presence of explicit performance incentives.
JEL Classification: C99, J31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation